Category: social media

First notes on Facebook Timeline for Pages

So as the internet chatter predicted, Facebook rolled out Timeline for Pages today. The page administrators have 30 days to fill in and polish up their timelines and then Facebook will roll over all pages to the new layout at the end of 30 days.

A few things to note:

  • The timeline won’t go live until you hit “Publish” or at the end of March, so fill in as much as you can before then, pinning important posts to the top of your page, starring important events in your timeline, etc.
  • The timeline cover photo is the same dimensions as the personal page one, 849 pixels wide by 313 pixels tall. A photo is not selected by default for you so you’ll have to choose something from your existing photos (it must be at least 720 pixels wide) or upload a new image.
  • In addition to the cover photo you’ll need to have a profile icon which should be square and at least 180 pixels wide.
  • Photos, likes and apps are now at the top of your Page along with your “About” blurb. Photos show in the first spot, then likes, then you can order the apps after that (you get a dropdown menu that will reveal all the apps once there’s more than 2).
  • You can no longer have an app as the default tab for your page. This is a big change and means that the “Welcome” and “Like Us!” tabs that so many pages have created will now be relegated to being just another tab the user has to find and click on. I will be very interested to see how pages adjust to this new paradigm.
  • Fans can now contact you privately with messages that will show up in the newly designed admin panel along with insights, new likes and activity.
  • The “Use Facebook as <page>” option is now buried under the Admin Panel in the Manage dropdown at the top of the page (the “Edit Page” option is also in this menu).

I’m sure more “features” will be discovered as more folks transition to the new layout. If you find something of interest, please let everyone know about it in the comments.


Better Facebook statuses with links

Having links, photos or videos in your Facebook status updates is shown to increase engagement by your fans. When there is more than just a plain text status update you are more likely to capture your audience’s attention and stand out in their news feed if you have an interesting visual element.

Facebook auto-generates a thumbnail or small image preview when you include photos or videos in your status updates. If you are linking to a webpage in your update (which you can do by simply pasting the URL into your status), Facebook will create a preview of that link to include with the status by looking on that page for a suitable title, description and image to use as the thumbnail. The title and description of the preview typically come from the page title and the first bit of content on the page. The image is pulled from anywhere on the page that Facebook thinks is a suitable image. If there are no images found on the page you are left with just text, which is not as intriguing for your fans.

You can assure that there’s always an image to include by using one of two methods: adding an “image_src” link tag to the head of your HTML document, or by including an appropriate image on the page (this can either be included to supplement the content of the page or hidden from view with a bit of CSS styling).

The syntax for adding the image_src link is:

<link rel="image_src" href="" />

By including this code in your HTML header you are telling Facebook to use this, and only this, image for your page. This is useful if you want to enforce consistency when folks link to your site by having the same logo or photo associated with your links. However, the side effect here is this will restrict a user from selecting any other image on your page (if there are any available) as the thumbnail for the link.

The second option is to have an image in the body of your page somewhere, either in the content or hidden from view on the page. This allows you to have both a “default” image to use if there isn’t one available on the page, and to allow selecting a more appropriate image from the content if it is available.

If you do not want to show the image you can hide it with:

style="display: none;"

added to your HTML image tag, this will hide the image from view in the browser, but allows Facebook to still see the image and include it for use as a link thumbnail.

Bonus Tip: You can trick Facebook into having two links in one status update by pasting the URL of the first link into your status update, adding a space at the end so Facebook recognizes it as a link and adds the preview, then you can delete that URL, compose the rest of your status update, and paste in a second supplementary URL.


#heweb11 #tnt8 and #austintx

Yes that’s a lot of Twitter hashtags but that’s what’s been filling up the past few days for me. I, along with four other folks from W&M Creative Services, travelled to Austin earlier this week to attend HighEdWeb 2011 in Austin, Texas. Tina Coleman and Andrew Bauserman presented on our new events system at W&M, and Joel Pattison and Justin Schoonmaker offered a Photoshop workshop. Our former director Susan Evans (now at mStoner) also presented on creating a Creative Services team.

I presented alongside Doug Gapinski from mStoner about mobile strategy for higher education. The talk was well received on Twitter (tracked via hashtags for each session, ours was #tnt8) and I’m excited that folks were so interested in our topic. HighEdWeb’s magazine Link summarized our talk summarized our talk twice (!) if you’re curious about what we discussed.

I attended a lot of great talks and have some great ideas to bring back to campus. Here are their Twitter hashtag commentary (with a quick-and-dirty archive courtesy of Twitter RSS) and summaries courtesy of Link:

As always this is a great conference with great speakers and networking opportunities, looking forward to HighEdWeb 2012 in Milwaukee!


Facebook Profiles vs Pages vs Groups

(Cross-posted on the W&M Creative Services Blog)

There are a lot of ways for people to connect on Facebook. What started as just a network for college students has mushroomed into a community of over 750 million active users where seemingly everyone (and nearly every business, celebrity, brand and university) has a presence. There are three main ways that an entity can have a presence on Facebook: profiles, pages and groups; not all of these options are suited for every occasion. Here are quick overviews of each type with answers to some of the most common questions about their differences.


Facebook profile silhouetteProfiles are for people and only people. On your profile you can share photos, videos, web links, and general status updates with people you have connected with as “friends.” If you create a personal profile for any other entity aside from yourself Facebook will get grumpy at you as it violates their terms of service agreement. So this boils down to no fake names or personas (use a Page) and no creating multiple personal accounts (like one for work use and one for personal).

If you are concerned about mixing work and personal Facebook use, keep in mind that if you are an admin of a Facebook page it is not listed anywhere publicly, so no one will know to contact you or associate you with that professional page. You can utilize friend lists to keep work and personal Facebook friends separate and control what each group sees by selectively sharing information via your Facebook privacy settings.
For more on friend lists and privacy see the Facebook Help Center.

If you have created a Profile rather than a Page, for your business or brand, Facebook now offers a way to convert your Profile to a Page. Be warned however, only your photos and friends (who will be converted to “fans”) will be moved over, your wall posts and any other data on your profile will not be saved so make sure if you want to keep that information you have it backed up somewhere. For more details on how to convert a profile to a page, check out the Facebook Help Center.


Facebook page iconPages are essentially profiles for any entity that isn’t a real-life person on Facebook. Pages have the same photo albums, wall and info page as a personal profile, but you can have an unlimited number of “fans” rather than “friends” (which is limited to 5,000). Many celebrities also maintain a fan page in addition to, or in place of, their personal profile. This avoids the friend limits of a profile and when the celebrity is also a “brand,” is a way to keep their business and personal entities separate.

Facebook allows there to be one or more administrators for a Page. A cool feature released by Facebook allows an administrator of a Page to post wall messages or comments while masquerading as the page itself, rather than as their individual account. This feature is another good way to keep the business and personal aspects of Facebook separate if you manage a Facebook page for work.

For detailed info on how to create and manage Facebook Pages, visit the Facebook Help Center.


Facebook group iconIf you have a need to more frequently or directly communicate with a small community of people then a Facebook group is the way to go. You can utilize Facebook’s group chat, shared documents, and messaging features (where members will get emails rather that status updates in their Facebook stream as with a Page), to communicate directly with the members of your group.

There are three kinds of Facebook Groups:

  • Secret – Only members can see the group and what members post
  • Closed – Everyone can see the group. Only members see posts
  • Open (public) – Everyone can see the group and what members posts

If you are debating between a Group and a Page, consider how you plan on using it. Do you want to have a real-life “club” feel with a directly engaged community? If so, use a Group. If you want to offer interesting information to a large audience and publicize your organization, use a Page.

For more on Facebook groups, visit Facebook’s official Group help page.

Speaking of Facebook Groups, if you’re in charge of (or have any interest in) social media and are part of the W&M community, please join our W&M SMUG (Social Media Users Group) Facebook Group.


How do you manage your social media accounts?

(Cross posted from the W&M Creative Services Blog)

So there are a lot of products out there that claim to “help” you manage all of your social media accounts as well as any corporate/business accounts you may need to monitor and update for work. I primarily use TweetDeck for this purpose (TweetDeck handles Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn). I really like TweetDeck since it combines all accounts into one place for writing and publishing updates. In addition, you can also view all of the status updates from Facebook, Twitter (either as a full stream or via Twitter lists), LinkedIn, and Foursquare, plus you can create custom columns for a particular Twitter search term(s). HootSuite does all of the above as well but TweetDeck has a desktop app in addition to their smartphone and web-based apps which I prefer to use as you can clear the status updates that you’ve already seen.

TweetDeck Screenshot

My desktop version of TweetDeck, with columns set up to monitor other folks in higher ed (via a personal Twitter list), W&M "official-ish" and "unofficial" Twitter lists, and a Twitter search for variations on "William & Mary"

The main thing to watch out for with any of these multi-account managing services is sending updates out from the right account. There has been more than one occasion where a wrong tweet has been sent from a brand/corporate account (see examples from Chrysler and the Red Cross). HootSuite has built in a bit of protection for this, pretty much asking “are you sure?” for each post.

TweekDeck has scheduling capabilities but in general I try to avoid scheduling too many tweets, I will only do it when I know I have a handful of things I want to mention that day and rather than have them all posted in a bunch I space them out to every few hours. Too many scheduled tweets, and not reacting to the conversations going on in real-time, makes your account seem less “human.”

So if you’re looking to go a bit farther than just checking your updates via the Twitter and Facebook websites every so often, TweetDeck would be my recommendation for both general management and for scheduling, and HootSuite is a close second for many of the same reasons (multi-account management, multi-column view, straightforward scheduling).

What’s your preferred way to monitor and update your social media channels?

-Tiffany Broadbent (@tb623)


Eight Foursquare resources for colleges and universities

Selected bits of this post are also cross-posted on the W&M Creative Services Blog

FoursquareWhile working with William & Mary’s Foursquare presence and from my personal use of Foursquare over the past year or so, I’ve collected a few links I’ve found particularly useful, ranging from explaining what Foursquare is to those unfamiliar with the site, to resources for folks in higher ed in particular:

  1. Foursquare 101 offers an excellent introduction of what Foursquare is and how it works courtesy of the About Foursquare blog (this blog also offers a lot of great info and tips, as well as the latest Foursquare news)
  2. The Foursquare Support site is a good starting point for more specific questions, from how to use Foursquare to etiquette to software issues, all this is info straight from the source.
  3. Official Foursquare for Universities page is the place to start to see how other schools are using Foursquare, benefits to using Foursquare on your campus, and to apply to have your school get a branded page.
  4. Getting started with Foursquare for colleges and universities is a great overview from About Foursquare for what to do to start up your campus’ Foursquare presence.
  5. Here’s why Dave Olsen from WVU thinks Foursquare can help your school
  6. Badges are quite popular on Foursquare and they’ve made a set just for colleges and universities (just make sure that the primary category for each venue is “College/University – <type of venue>,” otherwise checkins at these venues won’t go towards unlocking the college-themed badges).
  7. If you’re looking to flesh out some of your school’s venues with some photos (and you don’t want them to be ones just from your mobile phone), About Foursquare describes a nice way to upload photos from your desktop (a little programming knowledge is required).
  8. Working with all of William & Mary‘s venues I’ve spent a lot of time using a site called tidysquare. It will display, on a map, all the Foursquare venues for a given location, show you possible duplicates, as well as find venues with incomplete information. It’s a great place to start if you’re working to clean up your campus’ venues or just looking for a way to gauge how much of a Foursquare presence has been established in your area.
Super what?

So one of the things I think is really cool (and smart) about Foursquare is that they crowdsource the maintenance of their venues. Folks known as “superusers” are given permission to update and add information to the various venues in an effort to keep the data as accurate as possible. There are three levels of superusers, ranging from 1 (the lowest) to 3 (the highest), and Foursquare just opened things up yesterday so that anyone can apply to become a superuser (as long as you promise to use your powers for good). I had been a “Level 1 Superuser” courtesy of all the work I’ve done with William & Mary’s Foursquare presence but, being the geek I am, I applied to be upgraded yesterday to a Level 2 Superuser. The whole thing really appeals to my super-organized side so I’m excited to appease that and help out the larger Foursquare community at the same time 🙂

So after all that I encourage you to create a Foursquare profile for your school or organization if you don’t have one already, claim venues around your campus, add new venues, offer tips to share some insider knowledge about your area, and find out all the new places this location-based stuff can take you.


An introduction to blogs, Twitter, and Facebook

Below is a post I wrote for Bethel United Methodist Church’s blog. I grew up going to Bethel and now I maintain their website and Google Apps account. Many of the “new technologies” the past few years have become commonplace with some members of the church, but other folks aren’t familiar with all the different social media outlets, or how they can be used, so this is my overview of a few of these (blogs, Facebook and Twitter).

What is all this “social media” stuff anyway?

Bethel Church has been “online” for over 10 years with our website. We’ve recently begun to venture into the technology front even further with email mailing lists and having the second service every Sunday available to watch live online. All of these services are great, and will continue to be used here at the church, however a new type of communication has also begun to emerge that can supplement our current communications.

Over the past few years, we have been presented with a lot of new information courtesy of what is known as “social media”, which includes things like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter (for detailed descriptions of each, please see the appropriate section below). At their core, all of these things are websites that provide people and businesses with a place to share their thoughts and interests online. These websites disseminate information, whether it be a personal account of someone’s latest vacation, or the promotion of an upcoming event at a restaurant and they each foster communities of their own, spurring discussions and comments on what people have shared.

So why am I blogging about this? At my job in Creative Services at the College of William & Mary I work daily with the technologies I mentioned above, we use these social media outlets to share the mission of the College with our community and the general public. Additionally, I have been using these social media sites personally for quite a while. Since I am in Williamsburg, but still want to help out my home church, I volunteer to run and update our website and now I’m starting to explore our church’s presence on social media and determine how we can utilize it to the best of its capabilities.

How can we use it?

The church has had a website for many years, way before any of these social media sites were around, and Facebook, blogs and Twitter are the next step in our “online presence.” The content shared via social media should supplement, not replace, what is currently offered on our main website.

Since not everyone who is interested in coming to church is able to attend in person, offering a virtual community where folks can learn about our church is a great outreach tool. Through our interactions with each other on these sites we offer a glimpse of the welcoming and loving atmosphere that we strive to offer.

Venturing into these new forms of communication also helps us to keep the church community vibrant with new members, as this is another avenue to explain and explore what we do. With over 500 million users on Facebook, 190 million on Twitter, and an unlimited audience for the blog, this is a huge community of people with whom we can communicate. When you share something on Facebook about the church, it goes to all of your friends (by appearing on their Facebook wall). If your friends find it interesting they will share it with their friends and so on; with just one post we have been able to reach hundreds, even thousands, of people.

Facebook and Twitter are also a great way to provide quick updates within our community. If it’s decided the church is closing due to inclement weather, or we want to remind everyone about the UMW breakfast coming up, you will find out that information as soon as it is released, since you can receive updates from Twitter and Facebook on your mobile phones as well as on your computer.

What are they?


In the case of blogs, like this one, the author writes an entry, known as a “post,” explaining their thoughts on a topic (the term “blog” came from combining the word “web log”). The readers of the post can then share their thoughts by leaving comments, which can spark further discussion and ideas.

There are blogs and blogging communities for just about every topic and interest, and the way that you can keep up with the latest posts on a blog is using what is called “RSS” (which stands for Real Simple Syndication). What RSS allows you to do is to be automatically notified when a new post is made available on a blog, you find out about these new posts by “subscribing” to that blog’s RSS feed.

There are many different ways to receive the notifications of the new posts, most popular is what’s called an “RSS reader”, that acts as your own personal customized newspaper and pulls together all the RSS feeds from all the blogs that you have subscribed to and presents them to you in one place. Popular RSS Readers include Google Reader, iGoogle, FeedDemon, and Bloglines.


Facebook is the most popular and wide-spread of the social media “platforms”. With Facebook, a person creates an online profile and can indicate other profiles on Facebook that belong to their friends and connect with that person by “friending” them. Facebook users can share photos, videos, website links, and more on their profile and that activity will show up on their friends “Facebook Wall” amongst activity from all the other person’s friends.

Businesses, community organizations and non-profits may also create online profiles, but since they are not tied with a particular person they are known as “fan pages” and other users of Facebook can indicate that they support that organization by “liking” the page. Organizations with a fan page communicate with their fans by posting status updates, photos, videos, etc. just like a personal profile, and these updates will show up on the “Wall” of anyone who likes the page. Fan pages can serve as a community-based supplement to an organization’s website. We just started a fan page for the church this weekend.

Facebook also offers what are known as “Facebook Groups”, which are like “clubs” in the real world, they require you to “join” and then members of that group can interact directly with each other. Any activity on the group’s “wall” comes from individual members, and communications within the group are done with Facebook messages. Groups are best for small-scale, personal interactions. Our church Facebook group has been around for over two years.


Twitter is similar to blogging, however each of the posts from a person is limited to 140 characters and these posts are automatically shared with other Twitter users who “follow” them. When people post on their Twitter account it is known as “tweeting,” these little posts (called “tweets”) can range in topic from what the person had for breakfast, to their opinion on the latest news story, or, if the account is a company, advertising a last-minute sale. Twitter has become the fastest way for news to travel, as “tweeting” can easily be done using a mobile phone. We’ve just started a church Twitter account as well.